Public education PAC aims to change the face of the state Legislature

Public education PAC aims to change the face of the state Legislature
Becky Guidry is one of two Coast working group members for the Mississippi Public Education PAC. (Photo source: WLOX)
Becky Guidry is one of two Coast working group members for the Mississippi Public Education PAC. (Photo source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Parents are now fighting politics with politics. The goal: If they can't change the mind of the legislature, they want to change the face of the legislature.

School supply and money collection drives are cranking up. But, some say that they wouldn't be necessary if schools in the state were fully funded.

"I think it's important that, not just from one session to the next, but year over year, that public education get fully funded," said Becky Guidry, a volunteer with the PAC. "It's probably one of the more critical aspects of the budget."

The state legislature has funded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program only two times since it was established in 1997. The last time was in 2008. It failed again this year, despite organizations like Fed Up with 50th. Now parents around the state are finding a bigger weapon: A political action committee designed to financially support pro-education candidates. Their targeted date: 2019.

Guidry is one of two working group members on the coast helping to get the word out. The other is one of the PAC founders, Julia Weaver of Ocean Springs.

"It's going to be a tough battle for sure," Guidry said. "Our PAC is totally a grass-roots group. We're working moms from around the state. This is not our day job. ... but I think I can speak for our entire group that we are in this for the long haul."

And she said she's fighting for more than just her child.

"Strong public schools build the community. They help build business," she said. "An educated workforce is what all the big businesses are looking for these days."

Hannah Jacole of Gulfport is studying to be a teacher.

"We definitely need people who are going to be pushing for greater funding, better spending," she said. "Efficient budgeting in the school systems is so important. When you have what you need is one thing. But when you are using it for what it's needed for is another thing."

Former public school teacher John Wear agreed.

"Quite often, that takes a little extra money to have in the classroom the tools and the equipment that's needed to really learn how to handle those things that are used in the world of work."

Guidry said the PAC will be looking for fundraising opportunities such as school fairs, PTA events, open houses and community events.

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